House Passes FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The House passed the 2,232-page $1.3T FY2018 omnibus appropriations bill today by a vote of 256 to 167 (90 Republicans, many of whom are conservatives, and 77 Democrats voted against passage). The bill then went to the Senate for consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to cut off debate this evening after failing to get the consent of all 100 senators to waive procedural hurdles and move quickly to final passage. This means that the Senate may have to wait until cloture ripens at 1 am on Saturday to vote on cloture. This is one hour after the current FY18 continuing resolution (CR) expires. If cloture is invoked, a 30-hour clock begins, and absent a time agreement, a vote on final passage could occur as late as 8 am Sunday morning. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) confirmed this evening that several senators are objecting to the bill, but said he’s optimistic that the Senate will get it done. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also said he’s confident the bill will pass by a comfortable margin in the Senate. But in the interim, the government could briefly shutdown unless another CR is passed. The President has indicated that he will sign the omnibus spending bill.

In addition to including funding for the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, the omnibus includes extensions of the FAA authorization and Airport and Airway Trust Fund (through September 30, 2018), the National Flood Insurance Program (through July 31, 2018, a deadline which decouples it from the federal funding cycle), the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (through September 30, 2018), the Trade Act of 1974 (through December 31, 2020), redaction authority concerning sensitive security information in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (through December 31, 2027), the Brownfields Law, the Conrad 30 Waiver program (through September 30, 2018), EB-5 Regional Center Program (through September 30, 2018), E-Verify authorization (through September 30, 2018), Generalized System of Preferences, authority of the Judicial Conference to redact personal and sensitive information from the financial disclosure report of a judge or judicial employee if it finds that revealing the information could endanger that individual or a family member of that individual, the FCC, the Special Immigrant Religious Workers Program (through September 30, 2018), and pass through status from 3 to 5 years for certain drugs which not enough data has been collected to allow the drug to be priced properly by Medicare.

The omnibus also includes a technical correction to remove state match requirements for Abstinence Education, continues the EPA’s exemption for low-level livestock emissions, establishes a national criminal history background check system and criminal history review program for organizations that serve children, reforms forest management, clarifies the treatment of minor league baseball players under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime rules, reauthorizes the Secure Rural Schools payments for two years, directs the SEC to change certain requirements relating to the capital structure of business development companies, and includes a “fire borrowing fix” and a prohibition on employers keeping tips received by employees.

And the bill includes the CLOUD Act, the TARGET Act, the Taylor Force Act, legislation to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the Keep Young Athletes Safe Act, Kevin and Avonte’s Law, legislation to relocate broadcaster spectrum, tax technical corrections, revenue provisions (fixing the “grain glitch” and enhancing the low-income housing credit), and legislation to provide local law enforcement, school personnel and students with the tools they need to proactively prevent a threat.

  FY17 Enacted FY18 Omnibus Increase/(Decrease) Over FY17 Inc/(Dec) % Over FY17
Agriculture $20.877B $23.259B $2.382B 11.4%
Commerce, Justice, Science $56.555B $59.600B $3.045B 5.4%
Defense $516.115B $589.452B $73.337B 14.2%
Defense OCO $82.349B $65.166B ($17.183B) (20.9%)
Energy & Water $37.771B $43.200B $5.429B 14.4%
Financial Services $21.515B $23.423B $1.908B 8.9%
Homeland Security $42.408B $47.723B $5.315B 12.5%


Homeland OCO $0.163B $0.163B No Change N/A
Homeland Disaster Relief $6.713B $7.366B $0.653B 9.7%
Interior $32.280B $35.252B $2.972B 9.2%
Labor HHS Education $161.025B $177.100B $16.075B 10%
Labor Program Integrity $1.960B $1.896B ($0.064B) (3.5%)
Legislative Branch $4.440B $4.700B $0.260B 5.9%
MilCon/Veterans Affairs $82.376B $91.991B $9.615B 11.7%
MilCon/VA OCO $0.420B $0.750B $0.330B 78.6%
State Foreign Ops $36.586B $42.000B $5.414B 14.8%
State/FO OCO $20.785B $12.018B ($8.767B) (42.2%)
Transportation HUD $57.651BB $70.300B $12.649B 21.9%
THUD Disaster Relief $1.416B $0B ($1.416B) (100%)


FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Text

Explanatory Statements


Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA

Commerce, Justice, Science


Energy & Water

Financial Services

Homeland Security

Interior, Environment and Related Agencies

Labor, HHS, Education

Legislative Branch

Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

State, Foreign Operations

Transportation HUD

Summary of Additions

Appropriators Continue Negotiations on FY18 Omnibus

The current FY18 continuing resolution (CR) is set to expire next Friday, March 23. Appropriators had hoped to file a final FY18 omnibus appropriations bill this week in order for the House to consider the bill on Thursday, but negotiators failed to reach a final spending agreement.

Appropriators are claiming that progress is being made, but still several policy disputes remain to be settled. They started with 150 issues to be negotiated, but still need to settle several disagreements including whether health care workers should be able to opt out of performing abortions under a “conscience” objection, whether the federal government can provide grants to Planned Parenthood, environmental regulations, campaign finance law (relaxing rules that limit coordination between political parties and their candidates and rolling back the Johnson amendment), and funding for the NY/NJ Gateway project. An online sales tax measure, technical changes to fix the recent tax law, and provisions to defund sanctuary cities are not likely to be included in the final omnibus measure. The bill could include an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration excise taxes that are set to expire on March 31.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) also remains a sticking point in negotiations. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said this week that a deal for providing “Dreamers” temporary protection in exchange for funding for a border wall was meaningless because of court rulings saying that the program can’t be ended while it faces a legal challenge. The administration also pulled back the offer saying that negotiations on DACA should be kept separate from spending negotiations. The administration is seeking $1.6B in FY18 to build 74 miles of physical barriers.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said appropriators should have everything done this weekend. To comply with the House’s “three-day rule,” Appropriators would have to file the bill by Wednesday in order to bring it to the floor for a vote by Friday.

Negotiations Continue on FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wants to put the FY18 omnibus spending bill on the House floor next week (Thursday, March 15) assuming it can be finalized and filed the day before. Some think this is an ambitious agenda, and that it could slip a day or two especially since the House adjourned yesterday and is not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday. The current continuing resolution expires on March 23.

While appropriators typically settle the funding levels first, this year they are trying to resolve the policy disputes first. There are still some unrelated add-ons that are complicating the process. Some of the more difficult issues were kicked up to the chairmen and ranking members last week for resolution, while others are being handled at the subcommittee level. The three hardest bills to complete are Labor HHS Education, Financial Services, and Homeland Security.

The Labor HHS Education bill is at an impasse over a Planned Parenthood funding provision. While federal funding can’t be used for providing abortions, the Senate bill provides $286.5M for family planning programs and stipulates that the funding can’t be used to make changes to existing regulations on how grant money is awarded. The House bill provides no funding for family planning, and specifically prohibits funding for Planned Parenthood. Republican House appropriators think the Senate language goes too far.

Another issue appropriators have to take into consideration in their negotiations is the veto President Trump threatened if funding for the Gateway tunnel project in New York/New Jersey is included in the omnibus bill. The project is expected to cost $30B, and an agreement with the previous administration has NY and NJ paying half the cost with the federal government paying the rest. Trump may be using the veto threat to leverage funding for his other priorities (e.g. a border wall) in the omnibus.

Delay in FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill?

Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 earlier this year and the President signed it into law on February 9. The bill included an FY2018 continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through March 23 and raised the spending caps for FY2018 and FY2019. With agreement on the overall spending caps and six weeks to write a final FY18 omnibus spending bill, another CR didn’t seem likely. However, a $3B dispute is currently holding up the final omnibus spending bill.

Republicans and Democrats are disagreeing over the use of $3B in Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (ChIMPS), which is funding that appropriators often dip into to offset raises in discretionary spending. Democrats are pushing to use all $17B ChIMPS allowed under the FY18 budget resolution, while Republicans are holding the line at $14B. In this case, the disagreement is over $3B in mandatory offsets to discretionary spending for the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.

Another potential holdup could be policy riders that are added to the omnibus spending bill. Lawmakers could try to add language on immigration, gun control, health care reform, Planned Parenthood, Russian interference in U.S. elections, aid for Puerto Rico, rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations, barring the government from using taxpayer funds at Trump properties, easing campaign finance rules, and making fixes to the recently passed tax reform.

Appropriators are still aiming to file their FY18 omnibus spending bill by March 14.